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Fitness with a twist
by Sami Edge - Special to the Tribune
Sep 17, 2013 | 2249 views | 0 0 comments | 18 18 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Lisa Gonzalez, owner of “Paddle Board Fitness With Lisa G,” demonstrates paddle boarding on the Sparks Marina.
Lisa Gonzalez, owner of “Paddle Board Fitness With Lisa G,” demonstrates paddle boarding on the Sparks Marina.
For Lisa Gonzalez, a day at the Sparks Marina is a day in paradise. And as a paddle board fitness instructor and owner of marina-based “Paddle Board Fitness With Lisa G,” the summer months seem like an almost constant vacation.

“To be honest, when I’m out here in the summer, I’m working, but I feel like I’m on vacation,” she said. “In the summertime, people know that they either have to take the summer off, or come out to the water with me. I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else.”

An experienced personal trainer at local Anytime Fitness and graduate of TMCC’s Personal Trainer Preparation Program, Gonzales has made knowing fitness and helping others achieve their fitness goals, her life’s work. But when she first stepped onto a paddle board three years ago, she knew that her workout horizons had expanded to a whole new level.

“I was just like anybody else. I just wanted to try it – and immediately I was hooked,” Gonzalez said of her first paddle boarding experience. “I love it so much because I’m a fitness professional and that appeals to me. Other people don’t like fitness, but they know they have to do it, so they’re attracted to it because it’s a way to have fun while still doing a workout.”

After trying for a short time to incorporate her newly found passion into her professional life, by enticing her personal training clients to the Marina for a few hours on a board, Gonzales made the decision to open a waterfront shop to share the sport of Stand Up Paddle Boarding (SUP) with the City of Sparks. Thousands of dollars and countless hours later, Gonzales’ entrepreneurial dream is a reality: complete with a lakeside shop full of boards and paddles to buy or rent, and lakeside dock space – her headquarters for private lessons and group training classes.

In addition to selling boards as Reno’s only storefront for Tahoe Standup Paddle Boards, Gonzales is a certified instructor of Paddle Fit, a cross-fit like workout where participants complete interval training on their board – alternating between sprinting between buoys and doing a series of body weight exercises on their boards.

“You’re basically engaging all of the right muscle groups to get a full body workout,” Gonzalez said. “It builds all of the stabilizing muscles within your whole body. Besides having fun, it can be very therapeutic.”

For local physical therapist Sabrina Summers, finding a therapeutic outlet in the sport of paddle boarding seemed like a long shot. After four auto accidents and a stroke, Summers suffered from balance issues that she thought would prevent her from ever succeeding at the sport, not to mention she was afraid of the water. Now, one month after her first paddle boarding lesson with Gonzalez, Summers has made trips to the Marina part of her weekly routine : not only for her physical health, but also for the mental tranquility that comes with paddling across the lake on a quiet summer morning.

“It’s only been a month and it’s really empowered me so much. It’s gotten rid of my fear,” Summers said. “(Gonzalez) is a great instructor. She figured out how my brain works, and she’s been really positive … it’s a kind of meditation. I meditate with each stroke I take.”

Especially because she caters to all age groups and customers of all ability levels, Gonzalez is always sure to double check her client’s capabilities before putting them out on the water – coaching them until she is confident in their ability to paddle, turn, fall and dock safely. Taking a extra few minutes out of her day to teach clients the proper way to SUP is a small price to pay to preserve the integrity of the sport, she says.

“This is a really good sport, but you have to teach people how to do it safely, in addition to having fun,” Gonzalez said. “The base of my business is educating – teaching people … I just want to get as many people out on the water as I can. “

From the beginning, “Paddle Board Fitness With Lisa G” has been a family undertaking. What started as a mom trying out a new outdoor activity with her kids, has evolved into a full-fledged business venture, Gonzalez runs the show true to form, working closely with her husband and three children to keep the operation running smoothly, and encouraging her clients to bring family and friends of all ages to give SUP a try.

“You’ve got couples. You’ve got families. You’ve got people and their dogs. Everybody is invited. No one is left out and that’s something you don’t find in every sport,” Gonzalez says.

Although Gonzalez typically starts to see her clientele flow dissipate with the start of fall, SUP season is far from over, she says. In fact – from now until the end of October is her personal favorite time to paddle and she has a host of activities, including a paddle fit challenge with Reno’s “Nevada Dream” semi-pro football team, lined up to entice curious clientele to come out and play in the cooler autumn weather. At the end of October, Gonzalez will limit paddle boarding excursions to warm, sunny days, but will keep the shop open for paddle board sales and will rent space for board storage all winter long.

Though she’s no stranger to hesitant questions concerning the cleanliness of her favorite summertime haunt, Gonzalez is proud of her port at the Sparks Marina. In her opinion, the reservoir has garnered an undeserved reputation. Not only do it’s calm glassy properties make it an easier place to SUP than Lake Tahoe, but water quality is essentially the same, she says.

“(The Marina) is such a jewel that people don’t really know is here because it has such a bad reputation … You have to get out on a board to really appreciate it and that’s why I’ve got to get people out here – to beat that perception,” she said. “We’ve got to take advantage of where we are. We live in such a beautiful state, and in the City of Sparks; this is just such a wonderful place.
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